"little to disturb them, except the periodical terrors of a Presidential election"

Zachary Taylor (1848)
Public DomainZachary Taylor (1848) - Credit: James Reid Lambdin
Taking place on a four-yearly basis, Presidential elections have been part of the United States’ democratic process since 1788 when George Washington was elected into office. Originally, only white men aged 21 and above with property were granted the privilege of voting. Under the more egalitarian influence of the Jacksonians, suffrage was extended to all white males regardless of property ownership between 1820-60, but non-white citizens, women and Native Americans were still excluded. 


Click here to see a timeline of all Presidential candidates up to the present day. The figures show that, relative to most other years, the contest between Zachary Taylor and Lewis Cass that saw Hawthorne lose his position at the custom house was fairly close, with the Whiggish Taylor winning by 12 per cent of the vote.